2 3 Throwback Thursday and Toe-Tap | Ballet Webb

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday and Toe-Tap


Throwback Thursday and Toe-Tap

Toe-tap was born in vaudeville as an effort to raise the stakes – simply dancing on one’s toes wasn't amazing enough to satisfy the audience any more.  Two stars of the day that popularized this dance form were Harriet Hoctor (http://balletwebb.blogspot.com/2014/01/throwback-thursday-bending-over.html ) and Marylin Miller.  Ms. Hoctor was a Broadway star in the 1920s and 1930s who tapped up a escalator in pointe shoes constructed with steel shanks.  Ms. Miller was famous in vaudeville and was considered one of the best toe-tappers of her day.

Other dancers soon incorporated steel shanks into their pointe shoes that allowed them to dance such things as the Charleston on pointe.  Some performers added other things to their choreography, like playing the trumpet while tap-dancing on pointe.

It wasn't long before toe-tap became a national craze.  Dance studios began offering lessons in this eccentric dance form and students performed it in their recitals.  It was popular until the 1960s when horror stories of debilitating injuries caused by the use of these toe-tap pointe shoes began circulating.

There are few teachers today who teach this novelty – and I don’t recommend it to my students due to the injuries that could result.  But it provides a fascinating glimpse into the past.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Dance History Factoid #58:  
Toe-tap was a dance craze that developed during the vaudeville era.”

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